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A Daffodil Is Born
A Daffodil is Born

A lot of people believe the cultivation of daffodils began in the Puyallup Valley to take the place of the Valley's first lucrative crop, the growing of hops.
Hops were first planted around 1865, and made millionaires of many valley farmers. The sudden and permanent demise of hop growing in the Valley came in the 1890's because of hop aphids and mildew (mildew… in Washington? No!).
The first real "crop" of daffodils in the Valley was planted around 1910 by George Ward Lawler, who had a Gardenville (where the Poodle Dog Restaurant stands now in Fife). He sold the cut flowers at a road-side stand, and they were very popular, especially with the latest phenomenon, Sunday drivers in their newfangled horseless carriages (does that mean we can credit George Ward Lawler with the first traffic jam in this area?).
By the early 1920's, Lawler's plantings had grown to 15 acres at North Puyallup, and later he moved to Roy where he planted more than 100 acres on the banks of the Nisqually River.
In 1924, one of the most innovative and far-seeing farmers in the Valley, W. H. Paulhamus, called a meeting of local farmers interested in knowing more about bulbs - and the infant industry was born. Among those who planted the first bulbs in the Valley were Frank Chervenka, H.F. Gronen, L.M. Hatch; and the Orton brothers, Ed and Charles.
Almost as soon as it was born, the bulb industry spawned the Puyallup Valley Bulb Exchange in 1926, which worked closely with local farmers to market their daffodil products. The mild climate and deep soil of the Valley combined to produce blooms two to three weeks ahead of imported bulbs. Florists wishing to force bulbs for early markets in mid-winter soon were using these early bulbs from the Puyallup Valley.
Washington state as a whole produces 20 percent of the daffodil bulbs grown in the United States and scientists from the Western Washington Research and Extension Center have been a contributing factor to that success.
Still, the industry is not what it used to be. Where once the Valley supported 40 daffodil bulb farmers, today there are five. Where once the Valley was a carpet of gold each spring, attracting visitors and tourists by the thousands, few daffodils are left to bloom today.
A few "mother blocks" still are permitted to bloom, but the advent of the cut flower industry in recent years has limited the wide panorama of blooming fields. During the past few decades, also, the bulb acreage here has plummeted from over 1,000 to less than 400 acres, largely due to commercial an
d residential development.

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Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
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